Defective Chinese Drywall Used in CondosJun 3, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Chinese drywall is turning up in condo complexes in Florida and elsewhere. According to a report in the Charlotte Sun-Herald, tainted Chinese drywall was just discovered in one building in the luxury Vivante condominium complex in Punta Gorda Isles, Florida.
Homeowners in at least 18 states have complained that fumes from Chinese-made drywall produce a “rotten eggs” odor and cause metals, such as air conditioning coils, to corrode. The fumes have also been associated with respiratory and sinus problems in some residents. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the U.S. imported roughly 309 million square feet of drywall from China during the housing boom from 2004 to 2007.
Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released results of tests it conducted that compared Chinese drywall to American-made material. The tests found sulfur and two organic compounds associated with acrylic paint in the Chinese drywall that were not present in the American wallboard. The agency said more testing is needed to determine if any of the compounds found in the Chinese drywall are responsible for problems reported by homeowners.
The first complaints about the smells and other problems associated with Chinese drywall were made by Florida homeowners in January. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the problem in Florida and other states is not simply confined to single family homes. The Bonita Springs law firm of Parker Waichman LLP, the first firm to file a federal class action lawsuit over Chinese drywall, has confirmed that condo owners and condo associations have called the firm looking for help with their Chinese drywall problems.
We've previously reported that Chinese drywall was the subject of complaints at the 240-unit Harbor Walk condo complex in Norfolk, VA. Condo owners there have filed a lawsuit against the complex's developer. And in April, we reported that residents of the 90-unit Magdalena Gardens in Punta Gorda, Florida had claimed that fumes from Chinese drywall had made them sick and had caused corrosion problems.
According to the Sun-Herald, the Chinese drywall at the Vivante complex was discovered in March in Building 5 of the Boca Lago section. A spokesperson for the complex told the Sun-Herald that bout 70 percent of the units tested in Building 5 of Boca Lago had at least some of the tainted drywall. Only about 40 percent of that building's 45 units have been tested to date. The spokesperson said that the developer of the complex believes that the Chinese drywall problem is confined to that one building because the putrid smells and other problems associated with the material have not been reported elsewhere in the complex.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has been investigating the problems with Chinese drywall for several months. According to SunSentinal.com, the agency has so far received 365 complaints about Chinese drywall from homeowners in 18 states. The agency currently has investigators in all states - with the exception of Wyoming - where the problems have been reported.
The SunSentinal.com is also reporting that the CPSC has launched a new online Drywall Information Center to help homeowners keep track of the agency's investigation. The site also has information that can help consumers determine if their homes were built with the contaminated product. Consumers can also access the site to file a drywall complaint.